My Body

Bini Atkinson, My Body CAT Scan
Bini Atkinson, My Body MRI

AIM:-  The aim of the project is/ was to record  and analyse the changes on my body after surgery using CAT/MRI/XRAY/PHOTOGRAPHS from the surgical process.
The process was partly to investigate therapeutic benefit of managing my pain and healing through creative activity.

OBJECTIVE:-  To record and inform through making ( mark making on 2D surfaces, including stitch, print, wax, paint, ephemeral materials from the operating suite and hospital wards) the changes of healing on the body.
To discuss with the surgical team (Mr. Stepehn Finney surgeon) the type of mark making and how it corresponds to healing.
To learn specific surgical closures, sutures etc
I produced a body of work and facilitated open access workshops for exhibition to general public in medical institutions and public spaces.
The work started in 2009 after first surgery and I had a specific timescale for my initial exhibition based around my post of Artist in residence at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield which lasted 12 months.
I was approached by Kirklees health authority in 2010 to work alongside them to deliver their staff tool box and work with the Expert Patient programme .
I continued to work on my own practice between 2010 as I had further surgery and I have used my experience within the NHS and further surgical intervention to manage my health and have continued to work with small groups and institutions to support both my own and their wellbeing by  producing  2D work . I continue my practice based on my physical condition as an ongoing expression of good health.
At present I am exhibiting in Canterbury as part of the University of Kent’s exhibition Prescription.

Description of the arts activity

My Body.  Having been in rude health for too many years to mention, I find myself now with a number of health problems that have required me to make changes to my life style and life expectations. Never willing to give up on an artistic opportunity I have used the visual recording of my MRI, CAT scans, X-rays, paper documentation from hospital visits and Doctor’s and Surgeon’s letters to produce work that reflects my journey through the NHS.

Therapy and Art in unison
What does Bini do?  I work with stitched and adapted papers and surfaces; I create what can be broadly termed as craft textiles, using found and recycled materials. Through the use of layering, waxing, scratching, painting, cutting, tearing, embedding, printing and stitching I produce starting points from which I can explore and develop further experimentations, investigations and possible outcomes

Details of the project participants

I started the practice of making art on my own for my own therapeutic experience and analysing how and why my body had to undergo changes. A chance encounter at the end of a meeting with my surgeon I related my art making to him and at his instigation he asked me to return with work and talk to his surgical support team. When I returned and delivered my 20  minute talk, it was apparent that two of the team also recorded  procedure and process of surgery through image making and we shared making examples and its effect on the individual. My surgeon used one of my fold out etching books as a visual aid for his students, using it to start a point of discussion and development of how creative activity may prolong the useful effects of medication for pain relieve.

At his suggestion I contacted the local NHS  authority who used my experience to work with office staff on their Tool Box   participation as well as exhibiting work at their headquarters and giving informal talks to interested parties. I also had a 2 week residency at the headquarters where I continued to produce work and further engage with workers by running drop in sessions to produce health related small scale projects called Twinchies, 2” square mini works.

Serendipity played a part in the next development of my art making , I was asked to take up a 12 month residency at the Theatre in Huddersfield and continue with my work on an open access basis and outreach workshops, culminating in an exhibition at the end of the year. This led to further workshops within the NHS system and also private care homes and dementia groups.

Project management

As this is an ongoing project, management has been varied, I am self- employed  but workshops have always been arranged through a co- worker/ manager within the institution that I work with. I claim expenses and a basic fee, although have made concessions for small groups and have negotiated a lesser fee. As most of the materials are based on recycled materials the cost for this is small in comparison to making work from scratch. I am still , 8 years after starting my working process working out a way of producing a uniform package that can be distributed amongst agencies and organisation that I work with.

Evaluation methods and findings

This is an ongoing practice. My experience of my creative activity and working with groups/ institutions and its success can be evaluated by outcome and further expression of interest.

To date I have exhibited and contributed to workshops over the last 8 years, these include in conventional galleries, exhibition curated by the Wellcome Trust, Art in Hospital, doctors surgeries.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England